The Formula
International Bestseller

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Book Launch

Talk with Prez Aoun

Nov 9 Talk


Common wisdom goes something like this: work hard and success will follow. But as we've all witnessed, that's not always the case. While the disconnect is often explained away by “luck” bestowed on a seemingly select few, science reveals otherwise and the reason can be surprising: Success, as it turns out, is not a direct result of our achievements, but instead an indirect reaction to how those achievements are perceived and valued by those around us. As Barabási puts it, “Success isn't about you, it's about us.”

Through lively stories and a look at data from all quarters of our pop culture and business lives-bestselling authors and books; the trajectory of Tiger Woods; the best paid physics professor; a parade the newspapers thought was for Einstein but wasn't; the rise of Google's search engine; singer Darlene Love's career from backup singer to star at the age of 70; why for women being “team players” comes with a bigger price than it does for men; Kickstarter campaigns and more-he shows the underlying mechanics at work and why we respond to certain kinds of performances the way we do.

Barabási's research also offers a hopeful perspective on the wider potential power of understanding the mechanics of success. An example: data showed that in auditions for orchestra positions there was a bias against female applicants. An individual can't alter their chances inside this data point and reality-but systematic change is possible. And it has been implemented. Thanks to raised awareness of the tendency, auditions are now largely held behind a screen


Albert-László Barabási is the Robert Gray Dodge Professor of Network Science and a Distinguished University Professor at Northeastern University, where he directs the Center for Complex Network Research and holds appointments in the Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Department of Network and Data Sciences at Central European University in Budapest. A native of Transylvania, Romania, he received his master's in theoretical physics at Eötvös University in Budapest, Hungary, and his Ph.D. at Boston University. His book Linked: The New Science of Networks (Perseus, 2002) is currently available in fifteen languages. Bursts: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do (Dutton, 2010) is available in five languages. He is the author of Network Science (Cambridge, 2016) and the coeditor of The Structure and Dynamics of Networks (Princeton, 2005) and Network Medicine (Harvard University Press, 2017). His work has led to many breakthroughs, including the discovery of scale-free networks, which continues to make him one of the most cited scientists today.

Barabási is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was awarded the FEBS Anniversary Prize for Systems Biology in 2005 and the John von Neumann Medal for outstanding achievements in computer science and technology in 2006, the C&C Prize from the NEC Foundation in 2008, the U.S. National Academies of Sciences Cozzarelli Prize in 2009, the Lagrange Prize for his contributions to complex systems in 2011, the Prima Primissima Award for his contributions to science in 2014, and the Senior Scientific Award of the Complex Systems Society in 2017. He was elected a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the Romanian Academy, Academia Europaea, the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, and the Massachusetts Academy of Sciences, and he received Doctor Honoris Causa degrees from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, the University of West Timişoara, and Utrecht University.

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